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Mike Nichols Movies: 18 Essential Films You Should Watch Right Now

Few directors can be said to have changed the way films are made, but Mike Nichols, who died Wednesday at 83, was one of them. His first film, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (1966), ended decades of Hollywood censorship of adult content and freed the movies for mature language and subject matter ever after. His second film, "The Graduate," was the first serious mainstream movie to feature a rock soundtrack (spawning Simon and Garfunkel's hit "Mrs. Robinson") and, through its casting of Dustin Hoffman, expanded Hollywood's notion of what a leading man ought to look and sound like.

Nichols wasn't born in America (he and his family escaped from Nazi Germany when he was a child), but he was one of the best chroniclers of contemporary America -- its politics, its aspirations, its dreams, its aristocracy, and its successes and failures -- in movies. His youth in Manhattan as the son

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